You are here



Newsletter: May 2019


Saturday Superstars


"It's what you can do that counts"

Riding at Heathrow Special Needs Centre is all about improving posture and balance. It gives confidence, raises self-esteem and helps with gross and fine motor skills. All this whilst enjoying a relationship with the riding team, the horse and, very importantly, having fun.

How does this happen?  Horse riding is a non-weight bearing activity. As such it benefits riders with cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders. The three-dimensional movement of the horses goes through the rider's body, gradually making them more relaxed and supple, strengthening core stability, reducing spasms and improving balance, posture and coordination.

A varied riding session content, where appropriate, such as stretches, exercises and/or games, challenges, as well as riding school movements, such as straight lines, figures of eight, circles, halts and changes of pace add to the riding experience.

The gentle rythmn of the horse and repetition of challeges helps with autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay, Down's syndrome and learning or language disabilities. In fact, there are very few conditions that we cannot accommodate. As well as recreational benefits, there are psychological benefits. Riders are encouraged to take control of the horse and make decisions, which in turn improves communication skills.

An often overlooked benefit is that riders are offered an element of risk, which is often denied them elsewhere. This gives a sense of achievement.  Furthermore, riders with congenital disabilities discover a new freedom in movement and those with progressive diseases can retain mobility and remain active for longer.

These superstars have taken and passed their Grade 1 Riding and are now working on the next level. They all demonstrated that they could sit happily and keep a balanced position at halt, in walk and during changes of rein, holding the reins and showing a simple exercise that was pre-learned.

Congratulation to our thirteen SUPERSTARS

Charlie Chloe Dev Freya Joseph Joshua Luna Noah Oscar Sally Susi Thomas Wania

These riders have disabilities ranging from neurological disorders, chromosome disorders, visual impairments, hearing impairments, ASD and ADHD and sometimes a combination of several.

Well done, we are so proud of you.

We hope you will wear your badges with pride.









Newsletter: March 2019


Horse Riding Update

We are a member group of The Riding For The Disabled Association (RDA) and have four RDA horses at the Centre and riding lessons are on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday's from 10.00am to 12.30pm.


We have three ex polo ponies and a Connemara pony. 

Polo ponies are a type of horse rather than a breed and are calm, always alert and obedient.

The Connemara pony is a breed originating in Ireland. They are known for their athelicism and versatility.


This is our new pony called Oreo for short who will be joining our RDA riding team. He is 15.2 h.h.. He is an ex polo pony and 18 years old. Once he has settled in and completed his retraining he will be a valued member of our riding team. We all wish him many happy years with us. He has already made friends with our other horses



We have approximately 60 registered riders who range from 5 years old to 65 with a wide variety of disabilities or special needs. We have riders who have progressed to riding on their own without being on a lead rope or side walkers and those who benefit from a therapeutic ride.

Riding is very beneficial with regards to social interaction, improving core strength, posture, and an experience which gives them the chance to be independent, a sense of achievement - and puts a smile on their faces!

We have a great riding team with 6 fully trained RDA Instructors, Diane, Helen, Fern, Julie, Susan and Pat, together with trained volunteer side walkers. Many volunteers start with little or no previous experience of horses or the disabled and come from all walks of life.


Chispa is an ex polo pony who is 20 years old and has been at the Centre nearly 18 months. Pictured with Mark a regular volunteer


It costs more than £25,000 each year just to provide horse riding - and this doesn't include the additional costs which occur such as replacing equipment, horses and ensuring our buildings and riding arena remain in good condition. 

We receive no guaranteed funding from government or the local authority and we rely solely on nominal riding fees, charitable giving and occasional grants to help fund this expensive activity.


Pirelli is an ex polo pony who has been with us for two years and is 21 years old. 



Sparky is a 7 year old Connemara and currently on loan to us


We have a few riding spaces available for our Monday, Wednesday and Thursday classes.

We also need volunteers to help with side walking and general horse maintenance



Newsletter: December 2018 


Charity Update


As we approach the upcoming festive season, now is a good time to update our many supporters on the running costs of Heathrow Special Needs Centre. In many ways 2018 looks to close out as a very successful year with growth in our visitor numbers, increased horse riding and other enhancements to our visitor offering.

This success inevitably puts pressure on HSNC finances as all facilities are offered free of charge to end users, aside from a contribution toward the significant cost of providing horse riding lessons. As an organisation our core running costs are around £8000/Month and this increases significantly when our animals are inside for the winter months rather than feeding on the free grass outside!.

The Centre is grateful for all donations and grants and I would like to thank our regular personal and corporate supporters who provide the vast majority  of our income. These funds give us security in offering the best possible benefit to our clients on a long term basis. Our website allows supporters to set up  a regular donation and for individual donors who can make a Gift Aid Declaration. The charity can also  reclaim Gift Aid on top from HM Revenue and Customs.

Damian, Treasurer


Magic Santa

Santa doesn't usually get the opportunity to show off his party tricks so he particularly enjoys providing the entertainment at the HSNC Christmas Party. Few people know that Magic Santa is a regular visitor to the Centre as he is normally in disguise. He enjoys horse riding and he is always whispering secrets to the horses - you mustn't tell anyone but he waves his magic dust over them on Christmas Eve and they transform  into reindeer to pull the sleigh! 



I don't particularly appreciate the mess Magic Santa makes of my kitchen when he insists of making special Christmas treats for the horses, but it is a pleasure for us to provide the gifts for the Christmas Party as trustees, staff and volunteers do a fabulous job and their time, care and dedication is so very much appreciated.

Wishing you all a very Magical Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Magic Santa's Mum

(Of course Santa has a mum!)


Exposure to Work Experience

The Ealing Careers Cluster Progtamme is aimed at offering young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities an exposure to the world of work, reducing the numbers of young people that end up not in education , employment or training, or not fulfilling their full potential.

Heathrow Special Needs Centre has recently been supporting  this progamme and provided work experience for some of our learners. This has been an invaluable service as it has helped many of them to identify  hidden skills and qualities. In addition, it has helped build their confidence and hopefully will help them towards making an informed choice about career progression. Thank you.

Angela George, Project Manager, Dynamic Training



I was introduced to the Heathrow Special Needs Centre earlier this year and jumped at the opportunity to join the team working with animals and everyone who visits the Centre.

Witnessing visitors enjoying riding for the disabled - spending time with the horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks and small furries (not forgetting my best friend Mistletoe, the turkey) helping to care for them and learning about their welfare - my eyes opened to the huge benefits for everyone  (including myself) in gaining confidence and discovering  our own capabilities within the farm environment.

Seeing how the animal waste (manure) in turn feeds and nourishes plants and seedlings, also forms an important part  of the whole Centre experience for visitors, as does spending time in the indoor Activity Room and Cafe.

And, as for me, I can finally satisfy and fulfil my childhood dream of working on a farm

Verity Jones



Newsletter: October 2018


Charity Update

In a previous newsletter I acknowledged that any future expansion of Heathrow Airport would directly impact HSNC and that as part of the ongoing planning process we would engage with the team overseeing the designs.  These regular meetings continue with information being exchanged to provide a basis for any relocation of the charity. Meanwhile trial inspections of ground conditions and surveys of flora and fauna have taken place.

A power cut affected the Centre back in August and UK Power Networks installed a temporary generator on site for several weeks whilst they remedied the fault outside our boundary. Our visitors enjoyed watching the mini excavators digging exploratory holes around the site as they tried to find the cable break.

Our popular cafe facility provided by the Owen family has evolved. Changed circumstances mean they offer a full service Tuesday, Thursday & Friday. We are exploring options to cover the other weekdays by engagig with a partner organisation who provide work based training for people with special neeeds.

Dorian, Chairman of Trustees  



We really just want to thank you all because you have really changed our lives so much. Beau really loves coming to the Centre and enjoys his time so much to build in confidence and in trusting people. It is so lovely to see him so relaxed and he especially enjoys the dressing up themes.





Thank you the Owen family because you have made us all feel so welcome and the food is so good, yum yum.

I find it so relaxing and therapeutic just being at the Centre and we especially love our walks with little Whispa and watering all the plants.

Thank you everyone. Keep up changing people's lives.

Beau's mum Linda and Pam who is Beau's carer


Thank you for the work experience

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do work experience at the farm. I really enjoyed my time looking afterall the different types of animals and interacting with the users and other volunteers. I was given the opportunity to groom the Shetland ponies, clean out the rabbits and chickens, feed the pigs and many othe tasks.

I have learned how much hard work is required daily by the regular volunteers to keep the farm running for the users. It is an inspiring place to visit and volunteer at surrounded by lots of kind and caring people. Thank you so much for the experience.

Alicia Bryant


Our Vegetable Garden

The growing season  is now coming to an end and our Yard Manager Susan has been liaising with the Heathrow Sheraton Hotel to see if we can work with them to provide fresh produce. We have shown them examples of the crops we have been growing and are happy to purchase from us.




As well as vegetables the hotel is keen for us to provide herbs and flowers so this will hopefully provide a new revenue flow and also new gardening projects for our users.


































Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer